Tuesday, December 8, 2009

No-Mile-Salad....."Smug Mode"*

I can't help showing off what The B.H. has just christened "No-Mile-Salad", otherwise referred to in our household as "Smug Salad". All of the ingredients were either grown by ourselves or our nextdoor neighbours - silverbeet, lettuce, basil, spring onions, green beans, tomatoes (yes, not very many! - these are my first of the season), sometimes strawberries. An innovation we've just come across is adding mint. Ironically, this is probably our most successful crop yet we completely ignore it. We didn't even plant it. We have a chronically leaking outdoor tap (I know thats bad....I'm waiting for the landlords to fix it) - the silver lining of this situation is that the mint that grows itself beneath the tap is going absolutely beserk with all the water (as mint will do).

To be honest we don't garden with enough skill or on a large enough scale to produce much more than a nightly salad for ourselves, but this cannot be said for our neighbours, who are an elderly Italian couple with the most amazing fruit and vegie garden I have ever seen. The man of the house is out in his garden without fail for most of the time between dawn and dusk - even when its raining. He looks fighting fit. They grow a huge array of produce including papaya, the most incredible tomatoes I've ever tasted (which last summer hung copiously over our side of the fence he he he...we picked them with permission and didn't need to buy any for months), green beans, cucumbers, strawberries, lemons, oranges, chillies....you name it. I suspect that they are entirely self sufficient in fruit and veg with plenty of excess - which they give away. What strikes me is that it has recently become quite trendy for people like me to try growing our own food, but people like my neighbours have been just quietly getting on with it for generations - it seems to be a part of their culture, a way of life.

The lady of the house and I have regular rather limited but enthusiastic conversations over the fence - she doesn't speak a lot of English, but it certainly beats my Italian, which can just about stretch to the occasional tentative (and probably very poorly pronounced) "Buon giorno". For the year or so we've lived here The B.H. and I have been optimistically looking forward to the time when we might commence (likely rather lopsided) food 'swapsies' - and this has just begun, hurray! The green beans that crossed the fence the other day made those you'd find in the supermarket seem like a cardboard imitation - these tasted like the ultimate essence of green bean. Yum.

* Anyone not familiar with the derivation of the term "Smug Mode" really needs to do themselves a favour and familiarise themselves with the hilarious BBC series "Red Dwarf".

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